Thursday, 21 November 2013

Doomsday for London Underground

************ Note - On Thursday Morning the Lead story on BBC London was that TFL would be announcing driverless trains and closure of all London station ticket offices. This blog was written in good faith based on the fact that this was lead story. The announcement didn't mention driverless trains. We therefore assume that someone was feeding TFL misinformation. Now there have been comments that we should await formal confirmation. Now yes we should, as this was presented as a fact, so apologies for that, but hey ho, if you can't trust the BBC news..... *************

Mark the 21st November 2013 in your diary. Today is the day that Mayor Boris Johnson declared war on the people of London. Today is the day that he announced plans to devastate safety on the London Underground network. Today is the day that he abandoned all pretence of caring for ordinary Londoners who daily use the system. Today is the day that he decided to sacrifice the network to Tory dogma.

He has announced plans to

a) Shut every ticket office on the London Underground
b) Make all trains driverless.

I am sure that I'll have a few right wing pundits who never use the service leaving stupid comments. I use the network on an almost daily basis and it is clear to me that the plans are wrong headed.

Ticket offices.
1. How will elderly/disabled people who have difficulties using machines manage?
2. How will tourists with difficulties manage?
3. What will happen if your Oyster card packs up?
4. How will you renew your season ticket?
5. What will happen if you have a problem?
6. Who will you ask for travel guidance & assistance?

Driverless trains.
1. What will happen if there is a safety issue in the tunnel, such as the 7/7 bomb?
2. What will happen if there is an incident on the train or an ambulance needs calling?
3. What will  happen if the emergency chord is pulled?
4. Who will report intruders on the line or in tunnels?
5. Who will inform passengers if there are delays/problems?
6. Who will clear doors etc of obstructions?

The above are just a few points I thought of. I rarely see a ticket office without a large queue, especially at busy times. On journeys, it is rare for there to be no interaction with the driver. Usually because people are blocking doors, but I've seen drivers calling ambulances when people have had heart attacks. I shudder to think what would have happened on 7/7, a day I used the tube, without the drivers and the station staff. 

This plan has clearly been dreamed up by a management team who hold the needs and safety of passengers in total contempt. I have one question. If as George Osborne says, the economy is in rude good health, how come London needs to cut £80 million from the budget of London Underground. Doesn't George and Boris realise that London is the engine of the London Economy. If these savage cuts occur, people will get injured and killed. Boris and George clearly couldn't give a toss (or is that ATOS). 



10 comments:

button55 said...

You forgot to mention all those thousands of poor souls who`ll be put out of work and slung on the ever growing scrapheap.

Anonymous said...

Where was the driverless trains announcement today, can't find that bit of the announcement anywhere?

Jim said...

Just today I had to use the ticket booth when my Oyster registered twice at the gate at Arnos Grove.

Driverless trains aren't the same as unstaffed trains. All the functions such as calling ambulances and watching the doors are better served by a staff member who doesn't actually have to drive the thing. If computers drive better than humans, let them.

Transport Insider said...

Oh dear. This blog is normally pretty good - but this time your facts are totally wrong. Let's try and clarify

Ticket offices.

1. How will elderly/disabled people who have difficulties using machines manage?

Staff are coming out of ticket offices in the main ticket halls. They can still provide help. And of course the vast majority of elderly and disabled people have Freedom Passes - so they don't need to use a ticket machine.


2. How will tourists with difficulties manage?

See above. See also that the number of staff at key "gateway" stations will be expanded by 30%

3. What will happen if your Oyster card packs up?

You will be able to talk to a member of staff or call the Oyster helpline - as you can do now.

4. How will you renew your season ticket?
Period tickets up to monthly can currently be bought at:
Oyster online tfl.gov.uk/oyster1
Oyster salesline 0845 330 98761
Tube station ticket offices
London Overground station ticket offices
National Rail station ticket offices2
Self service ticket machines at Tube stations
Self service ticket machines at London Overground stations1
Self service ticket machines at National Rail stations3
Oyster Ticket Stops
London Travel Information Centres

- So presumably all of this continues except for Ticket Offices. TfL haven't announced what's happening for longer period tickets but the current sales channels are:

Oyster online tfl.gov.uk/oyster1
Oyster salesline 0845 330 98761
Tube station ticket offices
London Overground station ticket offices
National Rail station ticket offices2
London Travel Information Centres


5. What will happen if you have a problem?

Staff at stations as now.

6. Who will you ask for travel guidance & assistance?

Staff at stations as now.



Driverless trains.

Ignore Boris' drivel. London Reconnections provides insight here:

http://www.londonreconnections.com/2012/transport-committee-part-1-underground-reliability-driverless-trains/
http://www.londonreconnections.com/2012/transport-committee-intermission-the-elephant-in-the-committee-room/
http://www.londonreconnections.com/2011/the-shape-of-things-to-come-part-2-what-the-operational-strategy-discussion-paper-means-for-the-underground/

Bear in mind the DLR's trains don't have a driver. Doesn't mean they are unstaffed though...

Transport Insider said...

You can get an idea of what's coming here:

http://www.londonreconnections.com/2011/the-shape-of-things-to-come-part-1-what-the-operational-strategy-discussion-paper-means-for-the-underground/

- Note that we will see ticket machines which will do much of what you need to do at a ticket office now. Plus how few sales are at ticket office windows..

Rog T said...

Transport Insider,

My Oyster card has packed up twice. At present I simply go to a ticket office and it is sorted there and then. Sometimes I make 10 tube journeys a day. Tell me how this won't be affected. As to there being members of staff on hand. Will they have access to the system to provide information or will they just stand around saying "dunno mate". I was at Burnt Oak a week ago and a passenger was asking the ticket office how they could get to Earlesfield. Do you think a bloke walking around without a system could answer that?

As to driverless trains. I was stuck in a tunnel on 7/7. This is about saving money, not safety. Drivers are trained. Are you saying every train will have someone on it? Who will spot intruders on the line etc.

In answer to Anonymous, as I said the reports were on BBC London radio yesterday morning

Anonymous said...

Thanks Rog but can we ensure the posts are factual, as clearly it's a bit misleading as in the end driverless trains weren't announced yesterday.

baarnett said...

This is Siemens's "driverless train". I think you can see a mock-up of it in docklands just now.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T2O1sOrED4w

It doesn't mean that Transport for London has actually bought it, though.

Anonymous said...

As I said yesterday - London Reconnections has the scope on driverless operation; Currently a red herring/masturbatory fantasy for certain Tory AMs.

Full details on the TfL staff website of the changes:

https://fitforthefuture.tfl.gov.uk/

Transport Insider said...

Sorry, should have included my name in the last post